Out of the Blue: Ratings above political integrity
June 3, 2017
Donald, it is clear that you want this 'Russia stuff' to disappear. Yours is by no means the juiciest scandal to hit the White House in recent years, but the way you and your team have responded to it is, if nothing else, fascinatingly unique.
Without class, big-picture logic, or consideration of the law of the land, the hemming and hawing out of Washington in regards to queries about the existence and magnitude of influence Russia flexed during our 2016 election comes across as desperate and frantic. Also, I might add, we can't get enough of it.
How can you spin this to your advantage? Is there a way a pivot by the Trump administration can reset the reporting on Russian election tampering and get the media to talk about something else for a while?
Let's imagine how this might go:
Don't get in bed with the Russians
This one you can't undo, Don. Like so many Democrats, I don't believe that Vladimir Putin came over to one of your golf resorts and made a deal with you personally about how Russia was going to exploit your candidacy to undo the American bozo spirit once and for all. As we saw from your trip last week, while you may know how to make a dollar holler here in the states, international diplomacy and political tact are not your strong points.
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No, it was likely more unsexy than that. Somebody close to you probably asked early in 2016 if you wanted victory "no matter what," and you heartily agreed to that, wrongfully assuming that the American system is about winning, winning, winning, and not about considering the swinging pendulum of governmental compromise that our three-branched political system is based upon. You wanted to win the prize, to beat "Crooked Hillary" in a popularity contest, and you didn't care who joined your squad in order to make that happen.
Don't obfuscate justice
Liberals are throwing this word around now with aplomb, citing that your early 2017 meeting with now-ejected FBI director James Comey in which you asked him to stop focusing on these nagging Russia stories was a bad, bad call.
A very basic definition of 'obfuscation' involves one demonstrating a corrupt intent to obstruct justice, so it's not exactly clear whether this could be legitimately pinned on you or not, but the fact that it's even on the table showcases an amateur-hour mistake on your part, Don.
You, the Worst Supporting Actor Razzie Award-Winner (Ghosts Can't Do It — 1990), incorrectly assumed that being president allows the same kind of hidden-in-plain-sight freedoms that attorney/client privileges provide. You still give the impression that you think things done in the White House are "off limits," that as the executive producer of that terrifying reality TV show "The Trump Presidency," any and all activity on your part (as nefarious or accidentally illegal as they might be) are sanctioned and immediately classified under the guise of national security.
That's not how it works.
Tell the hardest truth first
The quickest way for Donald J. Trump (DJT) to dissolve these Russia problems would be to open up his secret vault, to tell us everything. If it really is all "fake news," a straightforward sharing of memos and tax returns, and whatever else he'd like to provide would exonerate him on the world's stage within a week or less.
This is, however, where Mr. Trump and his high-ranking team have painted themselves into a corner. We tree-hugging, left-leaning commies might indeed be overplaying our hand with this Russia election-meddling stuff, but even citizens with a tolerance for Mr. Trump's boasting bravado must admit the guy comes across as someone with secrets to hide.
This makes Donald Trump as a character more interesting than he might be if he played by the rules, but while that phrase could be excerpted to sound like a compliment, it is what continues to backfire on the guy.
Creeping tendrils of treason? Secret meetings between the president's son-in-law and Russian ambassadors? Near-constant hirings and firings in the White House? These developments keep the Russian story alive and well, with every click of the refresh button bringing a new juicy tidbit.
If DJT really wants this thing to turn to dust, he needs to make it boring in order to play up its least fascinating bullet-points. But Trump doesn't play that way.
Subtlety and a quiet assumption that facts and details will play themselves out? Not on his watch. He could get his detractors to stop bringing it up if he let us in on the details of his behind-closed-doors activity, but as we've seen proven so often in the past, the guy cares way more about ratings than he does about political integrity.
Mike Restaino is a writer and filmmaker based out of Incline Village. He is also a founding member of the North Tahoe Democrats. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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